Monday, February 02, 2009

GroundHog Day

Yesterday was such an incredibly warm day that it was hard to believe that not long ago the land was coated in ice.

I stepped outside in my shirt sleeves and moved cautiously around the yard. My roses looked like they were surviving in spite of the frigid temperatures we experienced in January. I could smell change in the air even though we're not out of winter yet.

Today the ol' groundhog pops out and sees his shadow (or not). This day always makes me sad because it reminds me of the one time I actually shot and killed an animal (I also once shot a snake but I didn't feel too badly about that.).

It was a warm spring day and the dog, who was on a chain because she tended to wander at this point in her life, started barking.

Ginger was a small black dog, part terrier, part Eskimo Spitz, mostly mutt. She was facing down a groundhog that was as big as she was.

My dog was at a disadvantage because of the chain. She kept hopping and moving around and the groundhog kept chasing her, moving forward, then sometimes backward.

I couldn't tell if the groundhog had bitten the dog, but it seemed imminent if it hadn't already happened.

This continued long enough for me to call my husband (who was of course at work) and ask him how to chase the groundhog off.

The fact that the groundhog was after the dog meant the animal likely was sick, my husband said. He feared it might attack me.

I know how to shoot a rifle and I have my own .22 caliber gun. I loaded it and opened the back door. I raised the gun and in one shot I felled the groundhog. It dropped without a twitch.

The dog was very excited and had a scratch across her nose that went near her eye but otherwise seemed fine. I called the vet and he checked her shots and advised that my Ginger would be okay because her shots were all up to date. The wound did not seem to need stitches.

However, I felt very bad about killing the groundhog, even though it seemed I had no other choice if I wanted to save my dog. Even now, 20 years later, I still wish I had found some other way to go about it.

And every groundhog day, I am reminded.

P.S. Ginger came to us in 1984 and she died in 2001. I haven't had the heart to get another dog.


  1. Looks like you all are in for another six weeks! Good luck :-)

  2. I would have shot the groundhog. They are cute, but do much damage to yards and property. We had a family of them living across the road this past summer... thank goodness they stayed out of our yard.

    The Blue Ridge Gal

  3. P.S. Sorry about Ginger... it's so hard to let a dog go. Just lost one this past summer, swore I would not get another, but Hubby won that battle... giggles

  4. I also had the hardest time after our Cocker Spaniel died. I swore I didn't want another dog. But when our other dog seemed so depressed, I gave in, after almost 3 years. It took a long time for me to get used to the new dog, but I did. Never will forget my first one though. It's so hard to lose them.

    I'm with the other posters. I would have gotten rid of the groundhog too. It could have been carrying lots of diseases and killed your dog or bite someone. Doesn't mean you don't feel sad, though.

  5. Groundhogs are mean critters. My mother in love lost her cat to a vicious one with longs claws. When you start to feel sad, think of all the animals you saved by getting rid him.

  6. I just asked that very thing. Did the groundhog see his or her shadow.

    They can be very vicious. My dog fought with one once and I feared for her life.

  7. That would have been hard for me to do too but it sounds like you had no other choice.
    I am so ready for spring!


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